Surname Projects Missed The Point Of “Not” Matching ~ “1 in 10 is mistaken about father’s identity”

This story has gone around the Facebook DNA groups like wildfire:

One in 10 ‘is mistaken about identity of father,’ by Sarah Knapton


It was 2004 when cousin Buddy first directed me to the trough of y-DNA-for-genealogy magic to read the results for the Lewis Surname y-DNA project. He and I both remarked that there might not be a match in y-DNA, but this doesn’t rule out the possibility that…

… maybe it should have matched? No – by all accounts of all records – there was never any reason to try to make OUR John Lewis into being any John Lewis other than ours.

Our John lewis is Not related to any Warners, was not part of the lewis family of Poropotank Creek rather River to some.

Our John Lewis is found beside David Crawford in a “list” – the list’s meaning/use is up for grabs.


For this or any family maybe there would be a match in autosomal if – IF – it could reach back that far, to about 1695 (but it is TOO far). I mean, maybe Elizabeth Warner really was a mother to another 15th child and her husband John Lewis was not the father – but it is not likely. And families do not have two John Lewis Jr.s so this is not a misattributed parentage for the Lewis family of our David Lewis and his father Our John Lewis.

But in reading all y-dna results and in the surname projects and matching  we continue to use the Lewis project – one might ask and set out to confirm if there was a misstep in paternity somewhere along the line from Warner Hall to the descendant who tested — and who still lived in the house that Fielding Lewis built beginning in 1769.  So like all good DNA research – DNA was tested from two different sons of the lines from the Warner Hall families and they all match each other and the David Lewis males all match each other but the two families are separate.

What I am talking about is the age-old Virginia question that no one can answer because Hanover County is a burned county – who are these colonial ancestors? The records all burned, they are gone, or we likely wouldn’t be asking. We would know, easily, which John Lewis was the father of our David Lewis of Hanover, the holder of Patent Number One west of the Rivanna River.

The birth and family records were originally held at Hanover Court House but it burned. Burned county descendants have a terrible malady, and they go berserk, mumbling, “it cannot be true.”  If I just look more and read more, I will find the overlooked gem, a piece of history or herstory family lore, and we will know the identity of John Lewis, our Lewis patriarch.

I can tell you he is not John Lewis of Warner Hall, although there are a million trees that say he was. I was incensed to hear someone say it would not be fun for people on ancestry trees if they could not have the ancestors they wanted. Oh give me a stroke.

I say to that lady…


Genealogy Standards, second edition (2019)


The heartbreaking thing about fake ancestors is, they prevent people from learning about the real ones. I don’t know too much about John Lewis of Hanover but I can tell you a few things that I believe you can bet the farm on.

Our researching cousins Buddy, Mike and Cossette all deserve all the credit for everything. Period. I thank them all.

Mike remarked once about a surviving “list” of the inhabitants in early Hanover – the area that became St Paul’s and St Peter’s parishes. Like many others, Mike thought this was a list of men who attended a meeting, and in that meeting there are two John Lewises. One of them is listed next to a David Crawford — the name of a a longtime neighbor of our John Lewis whose descendants married with our Lewises for many generations. So Mike thought this must be our John Lewis, seated next to him at the meeting. But other than that there is no way to ID the two. And now based on DNA we can see that there were actually four men named John Lewis living thereabouts, and around the same time.

In Men of Matadequin (as in Matadequin Creek), June Banks Evans proposes that the list of names was taken not from a meeting but from a map that listed the landholders along the rivers from north to south.

The names of some of the land holders are available from other records, and June saw that the list corresponded with the locations of the known properties, following the Pamunkey River southward and on down the York River to the mouth.  June seems to say this list was intended to show who owned property at that time. Another string of names seems to begin with John Lewis of Warner Hall near the mouth of the York River and follows it north to the point where the Mattapony and Pamunkey rivers meet to form the York. From there the Pamunkey goes north, passing through what they called the “freshes of the Pamunkey,” and past the Matadequin and Totopotomoy creeks. The Pamunkey continues upstream until it meets the Anna River near Wales, Virginia.

We know from other records that our John Lewis and a David Crawford both had lands along the Pamunkey. June’s discovery placed our John Lewis possibly just downriver from Hanover town. This is farmland today, and the only roads are on private property.  But I would love to drive through and see the place.

We can look at the area on Google Earth and compare it to maps that show where Page’s Warehouse once stood. And we can imagine we have gotten fairly close to the spot where they lived in Hanover Town.

I have been satisfied with our own John Lewis, and I believe he could well have come from Wales. We know David Lewis married a Terrell daughter — whose family had Quaker records — and that he had a brother, Abraham, who was said to be a Quaker and who went to Pennsylvania. So I still believe we might have missed the boat by not exploring the Quaker records more.

But for John Lewis and DNA – at least y-DNA – there was nothing proved in 2004 when the Lewis surname project began. Lewis descendants took 12- and 25-marker tests and the R1b males did not match. But this only proved there are two distinct families based on the y-DNA line. So there was no paper to link the two families other than they both had the surname of Lewis – which is certainly a common surname.

Flash forward 15 years and there are still no new results to contradict what was learned then. New testers just confirm they are different families – that there are at least four different Lewis families. More Warner Hall Lewis descendants continue to test, and those continue to match the Warner Hall Lewis descendants.

Other Lewis males continue to test and match the first males of our David Lewis’ family. All this time we hope for a DNA match with a new tester who also has paper tracing back to a brother or uncle of our David.

In countless tests have we been too quick to discount  traditional genealogy research when a DNA test does not match? Maybe the paper is accurate but the DNA is revealing a misattributed parentage– a non-paternity event.

So many of the large projects cannot take the time to work with autosomal DNA to create DNA family groups at least through 5-6 generations. But for many surname projects, this could make it possible to identify a DNA break within a family. Otherwise, the project administrators should not be so quick to dismiss the paper research; it might be correct, at least for the mother! And for goodness sake, use autosomal; it could change the face of DNA-for-genealogy and understanding of family groups.

Copy of sam and 4

Baby and her Daddy

This link goes to one of my several Haplogroup blogs where I tell how to identify and confirm all your family lines using DNA. You can determine DNA connections to many ancestors by testing multiple cousins.




4 thoughts on “Surname Projects Missed The Point Of “Not” Matching ~ “1 in 10 is mistaken about father’s identity”

  1. I have no doubt whatsoever that our ancestor John Lewis was NOT the Warner Hall John. Mike and I talked with a VERIFIED Warner Hall descendant and finally convinced him to take the test….if Mike and I paid for it. So we put out good money to learn we DID NOT belong to the Warner Hall Lewis line. My disappointment was keen but I learned to live with it!


  2. Pingback: Genetic Ancestors? Do What? We Only Get Readable DNA From Some Ancestors :-( ~ But there is a way to ‘see’ lots more! | Cherie Lynn's Herstory

  3. Pingback: OK, The DNA does not match and now you have lost 1/8th (or more) of your ancestry. ~ How To! | Cherie Lynn's Herstory

  4. Pingback: Allow Autosomal DNA Testers Into y-DNA (Surname) Projects? Prove Expanded Lines ~ Identify Non-Paternity Events ~ Why Oh Why Would I Research Linear? – Yes! | Cherie Lynn's Herstory

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